I was going to do a piece late last week on this subject. Between Thursday/Friday and now three have pulled out of the Race to become the next FIFA President. Lets look at all 7 candidates anyway, because that’s how I was looking at it on Friday morning.
1. Jerome Champagne @ N/R
Champagne was the 2nd to pull out, 3rd if you include Football Agent Mino Raiola. The Ex-FIFA member and ex-Diplomat had the charm of something you find on the bottom of your shoe. His speeches about what he intended to do were typically un-inspiring. He failed to get the required 5 supporting associations, managing only 3. He has been one of the longest standing candidates, and to think he only got 3 effective votes is pathetic. Amazingly he, bar Blatter himself, was the favourite to oust the long-standing president. He was also a friend of Blatter’s, and anyone who is friends with that man isn’t trust-able in my book.
2. David Ginola @ N/R
Ginola was paid £250,000 by PaddyPower to stand. That in itself told you all you needed to know. Would he have stood if he wasn’t paid that amount? No. If he was, he would and could have stood a long time ago and have more time to get the 5 backers needed. He left it way too late, and as you will have seen could not get his 5 FA’s on board. There are no odds available on him, but quite frankly he never stood a chance. Pie in the sky idea – rather stupid of a big bookmaker to offer an ex-International such a large sum of money, and was probably a breach of FIFA’s ethics code. He was rightly lambasted for doing it, and if he got just one of the 5 required associations, I would have been shocked.
3. Luis Figo @ 16/1
Figo – like Ginola, left it late, But the 42 year old has the respect of the footballing world. He has a fresh vision, and would be a breath of fresh air. He, after Champagne withdrew – is the favourite odds wise. I think he would be the people’s pick. He has his 5 nations – Macedonia, Denmark, Luxembourg, Portugal, Montenegro and Poland (well, 6), so far. Personally, I would like either him or van Praag.
4. Michael van Praag @ 25/1
Surprisingly high odds considering his stature within the game. He is the head of the Dutch FA, and was Chairman of Ajax for 14 years. He has the necessary 5 backers already, probably more because all 209 FA’s can pick a candidate. Belgium, the Faeroe Islands, Romania, Scotland and Sweden have backed him, and I imagine the Dutch FA will too, since they can pick someone, even if he is their current leader. At 25/1, I think he a very good price, a well respect man and someone I think we could trust in that position.
5. Prince Ali bin Al Hussein (of Jordan) @ 25/1
When he released his initial manifesto a few days ago – he was criticised for being very vague on important issues, yet so long winded in his speeches about what FIFA ‘should be like’. He wants a shift about of how places for the World Cup are given out and a rotation system for the picking of host nations. His main point that Football deserves a World-Class FIFA is spot on, but saying things like ‘I want to improve FIFA’s relationships with International Media’ is likely to sit rather uncomfortably with many of the the old guard at FIFA. He has the backing of the English FA, who also regard van Praag as an excellent candidate, but has not submitted his 5 yet – and the deadline is Thursday. He is going to submit a more detailed manifesto at some point, but unless he is confident he already has the 5 votes, he better hurry up! He has received backing from Platini, though Platini is rather gutless as he could have run but did not want to lose his cushty job at UEFA.
6. Mino Raiola @ N/R
A non-starter. Football Agent who fancied a crack at it. A bit like your Dad – with the thinking “Yeah, I could do that”. Jack of all trades, Master of…well you know the rest. Came in so late there was little time to gain any support, even if it was serious. He talked a good game, but quite frankly epitomised the farce this FIFA presidential race has been this time around. This was about as far fetched as saying the words “Mario Balotelli is World-Class” – which Raiola, his agent, has said from time to time.
7. Sepp Blatter @ 1/25
He already has his 5 nominations, which is worrying. He will not say who has though, which is even more worrying (Qatar and Russia no doubt). Massive favourite to stay another term, but I can’t help but think the bookies are scared stiff of losing out. I am positive in thinking everyone in World-football wants a change, but just how many FA’s does Blatter have under his big, fat thumb?
Conclusion: Who Will Win?
With three candidates running, the risk is the votes will be very split. If there were just 1 or 2 – a good chance of overthrowing Blatter. The thinking is Prince Ali may not be favoured over van Praag and Figo due to him being the only non-European candidate. He may get the backing from Asian/Oceanic and South American FA’s, but not many in Europe. I still think those two are the more likely of the three. The Dutchman, @ 25/1 is my pick and someone I think stands a huge chance. The vote is May 29, so we will see the odds fluctuate between now and then, but my overall feeling on this is that van Praag is the outstanding candidate with years of experience and the mentality to make serious changes from within at FIFA.
Quite frankly, we the footballing world would take anyone over Blatter. Literally anyone!